Werner Swiegers, Mthandeni Pascal Cele, Zongezile Zondi
Maximising the long-term global competitiveness of the Southern African citrus producer requires on-going innovation at various levels in the fruit value-chain. Product differentiation, through the commercialisation of new citrus cultivars, provides a principal means by which to achieve this goal. The Cultivar Evaluation programme aims to provide independent and objective information on all citrus cultivars to enhance grower decision-making. To this end, the Cultivar Evaluation programme is actively involved in the establishment and field evaluation of all citrus cultivars. The correct choice of cultivar is one of the most important pre-planting decisions that a grower must make. To make such decisions requires credible information.
Rootstock choice is as an important decision because it is a relatively permanent one and has long-term significance. Rootstock research functions mainly to determine the commercial potential of new rootstocks, and to ensure that the capabilities and limitations of currently used rootstocks are clearly understood.
The evaluation of new citrus cultivars serves three principle purposes, namely, to
- describe a cultivar’s characteristics,
- determine broad climatic suitability of a cultivar, and ultimately to
- determine commercial potential in the market.
Planting decisions remain the responsibility of the grower and should be made in consultation with marketers, private cultivar agents (where appropriate), and other cultivar specialists. Commercial decisions and processes of privately-managed cultivars remain the right of private cultivar agents.